How do I acknowledge, even celebrate my mother's wedding anniversary? Especially since my father passed away two years ago. Their marriage endured 57 years while he was alive--just because he's gone, doesn't mean such a legacy isn't worth celebrating. Like all marriages, Mom and Dad's had its ups and downs, sideway spins and free falls. All the more reason to celebrate!
Fortunately, before I take her to the airport, there's time for granola French toast and an omelette at Gustatory on Orange Avenue. I arrive early at her place, set up my computer at the table, and prepare to ask her some questions to set the tone for the day.
She sits on the edge of her chair.
"Without thinking about it, what is a favorite memory of Dad?"
She pauses only a half-second, "Traveling. Europe. Switzerland. I just loved to get him away. When we traveled, he was all mine."
"Now you can take a minute and think about a favorite memory," I say.
But she doesn't have to think long. "The time we took you kids to Disneyland and your Dad and I went to a fight and left you alone. You know what happened, there was a riot when the crowd disagreed with the winner and they set a fire and we had to get out of there."
She sort of throws up her hands, because perhaps there are too many favorite times to remember and retell. "I just loved being with him; he was a fun person to go and do things with. He loved to dress up and for me to dress up and he loved to look nice, so it was always fun to dress up and go out."
"What is your favorite attribute of Dad's in Loraine (my sister)? Favorite attribute of yours?"
She answers and we apply all the questions to all the children, and even bring in the grandchildren....
"What would you say to him now?"
"I already said it this morning, I love you and I miss you."
After 57 years of an earthly marriage, I can only imagine the feelings she must have for this man, my father. If she had the chance, what would she do for him now? The time and trial of caring for his infirm body, must now only seem like a blip.
And what would he do for her right now? I know he is limited, but in that limitation of death, of an existence in which I cannot comprehend, I believe he is still concerned for all our welfare--especially his wife's.
While eating our breakfast on the cafe patio, we are enjoying the music of Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries of the 1950s and 60s. Mom's favorite songs keep popping up. It's so natural that we hardly notice, until we take our last bites and the track changes. First it is a heavy handed pop song and then an obnoxious western tune about wanting to bed a man. The contrast is so distinct that we both get the same idea at the same time.
It was Mom's anniversary breakfast party, and Dad was there to make sure the music was just right.